tv Washington Week PBS April 12, 2019 7:30pm-8:00pm PDT
robert: just how far will president trump go to address the migrant surge? i'm robert costa. welcome to "washington week." present trump confirms reports that his administration may transfer immigrant detainees to sanctuary cities. >> i think spying on a political campaign is a bal . it's a big deal. robert: and attorney general under firfrom democrats. after claiming u.s.ll inteigence agencies spied on he trump campaign. >> he is the attorney general of the united states of america. not the attorney general of donald trump. robert: all as the nation waits e mueller report. executive power. next. announcer: this is "washington week."
unding is provided by -- >> kevin. >> kevin. >> kevin. >> advice for life. life well planned. learn more at es raymondjam.com. >> babbel, a language program that teaches real life conversations in a new language such as spanish, french, german, italian and more. babbel's 10 to 15-minute lessons are available as an app or online. more information on babbel.com. announcer: additional fundin is provided by -- koo and patricia yuen through the yuen foundation, committed to bridging cultural differences in our communities. the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewersike you. thank you. once again, from washington,
moderator robert costa. robert: good evening. president trump underscored his hard-line on immigrationhi ts week. on friday, he confirmed reports that he is considering transferring migrants from the southern border to so-called sanctuary cities. "the washington post," the white house believes it could punish democrats including speaker nancy pelosi by busing detainees to their districts. the speaker fired back. she said the administration is using human beings, including little children, as pawns in their warped game to perpetuate fear and demonize immigrants. and said tove may be rimalin isth com sesecre otary kir stan nilsson stepping down after clash with the president on many policy issues. joining me nancy cordes chief congressional correspondent for cb news. jake sherman, senior writer at
politico and co-ed tore of playbook. andrea mitchell, chief foreign affairs correspondent for nbc news and ancho of andrea mitchell report and seung min kim, white house reporter f "the washington post." you've been tracking these immigrations all week. i know we all need a little coffee, these ups andowns. but this is a serious threat it appears from president trump. how serious is t inms of becoming policy? >> well, let's look at kind of a step back see how the president's announcement -- surprise announcement earlier today actually materialized. we reported last night that this had been proposed at least twice, first back in novemb when there was the movement of caravans toward the.smexico border that really infuriated the president and prompted a t of ideas from within the administration on what to do to crack down on the increased migration. it was proposed again internally again in february when we were embroiled in the shutdown fight and democrats and republicans were clashing
over how many migrants to detain in the country -- in the at try who were apprehended the border. news broke out. other outlets matched our reporting. but what the -- and while the white house officials indicated last night that this wasan idea that was quickly under consideration, it is no longer on the tle. the president surprises all during your show. robert: what changed? >> well, our reporting, our latest reporting is that part of it is that after seeing the media coverage of the plan all morning, the president decided t that i was -- decided to announce it. so a lot of it is kind of a cklf-perpetuating news cycle. robert: let's sith that. he's watching the television based on seung min's reporting and reacting to it, andrea. is he watching conservative media and frustrated about this migrant surge and trying to ng signal somet to them? >> signaling to his base, lou dobbs' case, the conservative media but also i think in reading your stories, he
resents being told well, i can't dot. t and law doesn't seem to matter if something is illegal. he's seeing what clearly is something favorable to kirsten nilsson and they pushed back against it. i think that gets his -- whatever it is, it gets his anger up. and he saysoe can d that. and he has been defiant aboutev beg that he can violate court rulings right and left. views them as impediments and not as -- restr ttionst are legally arrived at. robert: on capitol hill, what's the response among democrats as the president moves forward at least potentially with this idea? >> outrage. they say that it's beneath the office of the presidency and unlawful. republicans sort of -- their attitu seems to be at this point, well, let's wait 24 to 48 hours and see if it sticks. because just in the past week, you've had the president say that he's going t shut down the border altogether. and then he walked that back and no, i'm goingse tohat
to pressure mexico and i might do it if i don't like the negotiation that we -- that w -- that we reach. and so republicans have a wait-and-see attitude at this point. they know that the president is frustrated on the issuef immigration. and they don't necessarily believe that anything he says s one daying to materialize the next. they think he will be on to tmething else. robert: and one ose republicans, senator chuck grassley of iowa, spoke with seung-min and said the president is pulling out the rug from the very people that are trying to help him oa accomplish his by doing this purge at the department of a'meland security. but back to and point, jake, about lou dobbs and the conservative media pressuring the president,e to tese kind of stances, so is the freedom caucus. so aon otherrvatives on capitol hill. steven miller inside of the white house. how influential have those hard-liners been in shaping the president's decision? >> they dictated his monthlycy for two years. i mean, important to take stock of this. number one, if he does this, it's going to shut down any
chance of anything over the ne two years period, hard stop. democrats are not going to do business with somebody who's busing people into their districts as political retribution. robert: doesn't this demand a bipartisan solution at some level to address the migrant surg i >> yes, does. but the president has stumbled over and over again on immigration policy to a point where you wonderin who's p attention to -- is anyone minding the shop here? that's number one. and numb two, what happened to the white house that said they were working on a bipartisan immigraon plan? ian:, the white house on these -- on this iue specifically is an ideological black hole and the same president whoy the way told diane fine stein last year that he wanted to do a deal with her. so it's tough to follow the logic at all here. >> and i was talking to a prominent republican who was just two days agoalking about, well, he could do a deal. he could do a deal with dickrb . we could revive all of that. and then if the house democrats reject it, fine. he tried. so the senate -- there was an
appetite in the senate among republicans to actually begin and resume negotiations. but exactly as you say, if he does this, it's game over. >> there was one ieresting development, i will point out this week, and jake knows more than anyone i'm very except tal of the prospects of immigration reform on the hill bu white house and administration officials reached out to about six moderate senate democratsd t privately on capitol hill wednesday afternoon. so m it wask mulvaney, the acting chief of staff a kevin -- who had been sworn in as the acting d.h.s. secretary. you had a group of those two officials plus people like dianne feinstein, jeanne shaheen, d jon tester,k durbin and not the type of democrats running for president but more the democrats who do wahi to gets done and democrats tell me this was a meeting that the white house precipitated. robert: don't the democrats have concerns, even ifhey are given by outreach and the family separation policy, an
idea? >> absolutely. joe manchin called o -- one those moderates called his relationship with the president -- not the relationships that he has ever had. because there is no through line. and democrats, they -- you don't hear them talking thatch right now about dreamers which is really -- when you bring up immigration, that's the issue that democrats talk about the most is legal protections for people who are brought to this country illegally as they just don't think they can get a deal done with thises ent. so he may talk about it. nhere may be outreach. but they've s that rug get pulled out from under them before. and i just don't think that they believe that -- a change. >> i do think thathe revelation a week or so ago in court when thtr adminion acknowledged that they had started the separation policy months before, that there were now thousands of children and they could not promise to reunite these families for two years or longer.
that is a shocking -- aki sh fact. and the feeling among people you talk to on the hill and amongther people around the country, active democrats, is you cant lethis stand. they have to do something. robert: does the administration then, if they can't get a deal with congress, is this all about executive power? nbc has reported the pentagon isng conside so-called tent cities at the border to house some of these migrants, these detainees. more executive action possible on the horizon. >> which is a violation of posse comatatis. >> and a move that's going to again prevent anytheng from hag on the hell number one. and number two, we know -- the outlines of a deal on immigration no matter what the deal is, we all know what it's e at the end l of the day. and the white house has done things that just prevent that deal from coming together time and time again. this is not a complicated deal to put together. it just requires political courage and the white house has no tput itself in positiono do that.
robert: is it all president trump right now? is there a short list for d. hers s. secretary to come -- d.h.s. secretary to come in and get a nominee to capitol hill? >> we have seen how the president relies on acting and gives him more flexibility and shown no hurry to fill niece vacancies. even at the pentagon with mr. shanahan still there months after jim matti left. some people who have been talked about for d.h.s., ken cuccinelli, crisco batch, clearly not -- crics kobach, clearly not confirmable and trying to send that back signal to the white house, whether they wan to receive it or not, that these guys will not get the votes even with those 53 vote majority. robert: is leader mcconnell guidance ny kind of here for the president? >> yeah. robert: as he moves ahead? >> he said point blank to reporters that he's not fond of ken cuccinelli and doesn think very highly of cuccinelli as a possible replacement which is really -- you know,g interesthat the republican leader of the senate, rather
than picking up the phone and telling thedent, felt that it would be more effective to deliver that message via reporters instead, because as we've just been talking about, the president's tweets today, that's often -- you know, where he gets a lot i of theseas. robert: before we go on, i want to pause on that point. beuse it's a challenge for reporters in this trump era to have on a thursday the white house saying one thing, then on a friday the president appears to undercut his own officials by changing his position. how when you're dealing with officials tell on a thursday and the president says another on a fday, how do you deal with that as a reporter? t >> i thi one thing -- and we all get asked the same question a lot how has washington changnder trump? i think one of the chief ways is no one speaks for the be presidende the president himself. it's not worth in a lot of cases talking to other people. >> you can't have other sources. but the other thing is the esident will say one thing one day whether it was on healthare or some of these other issues and say i never atid that. four or five days.
and that wasn't my position. so he has reversed himself o -- some of these things that the republicans in the senate you know, get him to back down on. robert: let's turn to the other political and legal battle this week, attorney general bull barr, he set off a firestorm when he testified that he believes u.s. intelligee agencies spied on the president's 2016 campaign. sparking sharp criticism from democrats for usinghat charged term. >> i think spying d occur yes. i think spying did occur. president trump: what he said was absolutelyer true. was absolutely spying into my campaign and i'lepgo a urther and in my opinion it was illegal spying, unprecedented spying. robert: barr also testified that he plans to release an fedited version o special counsel robert mueller's report on russia in presidentnd trump' t within days. many democrats and some republicans.gay the must share the full report with
congress. and the american people. and worry that he has too much say over the report. >> i am conceed by recent media reports that those working on the special quoun's team believe your summary to congress glossed over the severity of the damaging actions of those in the white house including the preside. the american people should be allowed to see the report in sos entirety. hey can make their own judgments about its content. robert: senator shaheen reflected mhe view ofy democrats, nancy, when she seemed to be taken aback by the attorney general's position. his use of the word "spying." whatttas theney general's remark meant for the credibility of the department of justice as we wait forhis mueller report? >> well, the speaker of the house point blank said she does not trust the attorney general which in and of itself is pretty remarkable. that you have the leader of the house saying that she doesn't trust the top law enforcement officer of this country. you know, this is very new
heelationship. as only been in this position for a short time. and hisffts and his aides' efforts to sort of clean up or clarify what he meant have only left things more confusing and left some wondering whether he intended for there to be a lot of confusion and a lot of omurkiness over whetherr not he thinks that his own department spied on a presidential campaign.e first said yes, i do believe spying occurred. then he wesaid, i don't know if any spying occurred. but i just want to -- i j tt wabe clear on that. and it's not like i'm creating a team to look into it. but i am goingo create a team to look into it. so no one on capitol hillre ly understands what it is that he believes. robert: there is -- snedge inside of the dep otments -- inspector general inside of theof justiceooking at the fisa and surveillance from the 2016 campaign, w did the attorney general get ahead of his own i.g., anyeporting on that? >> that's a great question and we asked mitch mcconnell when
we sat down with him aboutin those s comments and asking him, don't you think this is a loaded term? what was your reaction tot? and he said i'm going to defer to the insctor general report and let that play out. theris no doubt those comments made -- what was already this very partisan atmosphe that much more divisive. and i think that -- going back i to the truue that you mentioned with pelosi, something that mitch mcconnell has said several week is that you either trust bill barr or you don't. and he's absolutely right. now he'sn the camp where he does trust bill barr. but he was also telling us that i anticipate -- without having seen what the mueller report is going to be, he said i anticipate being completely satisfied with what the attorney general does. i believe -- yeah. m anticipating being satisfied with the level of disclosure that he makes. and he's like -- basically likey you'll see point next week. and he hasn't seen the report, so, i mean, no matter when the report drops, you kind of already know will be.crats you know where republicans will be. and it's not going to be any more closer to the same
conclusion. >> and what has happened is because of they attor general's initial four-page memo and because of the president's reaction, you know, i'm exonerated and i'm cleared and it's all over, they've controlled the narrative. and they have branded this as a mplete exoneration. and if there are -- a lot of redcations in this report, and if it's not conclusive, it's going to be very hard, i think, for the democrats in a protracted legal argument going to the courts trying to get this out. they reall are going to be on the defensive. and i don't know how they can get ahead of it. they really need to star talking about health care and her things as important as this is, i don't know how they can get on top of it. robert: thaterm spying, jake, it echoes what many congressional republicans, house republicans, like congressman meadows of north carolina, jim jordan of ohio, ey've been saying this for over a year that the origins of the russia investigation and -- in their view had many
problems. now they have the attorney general of the unitestates backing up a line, a point of view they've been stating fornt . >> they've been very frustrated over the last two years because they've taken out this frustration on me primarily. [laughter] reporters hav not dug into the spying narrative. and some people have explained to them that they've been all over the place and the stories at they've weaved about the 2016 campaign andhe dossier and the investigation have been very complicated and difficult to flow. and that's kind of prevented a lot of reporters from writing about i and it's also not rooted in the kind ofact-based arguments that reporters are interested in. robert: that's their partisan republican view. >> correct. robert: you've done a lot of interviews, andrea, with former intelligence officials about how fisa courts work and how the f.b.i. believes it did the right thing inow it was looking at russia interference and seeking fisa warrants to y to look at different aspects of the 2016 campaign. committees igence
used to be very different. they used to be bipartisan. and that really chang with devin nunes when the house -- he went up to -- robert: former white house intelligence -- >> andac he waschannel being the white house -- he wash back channelin white house. and that changed the dynamic and both sides went to their camps. bottom line there was a lot of very obvious alarms. there were, you know, alarms going off in 2016. they had to do a counterintelligence investigation. there were so many meetis that were not acknowledged by mike flynn and others, and lied about which they've established. they got guilty pleas to that point. so any way you look at it they had areble witness in christopher steele who had been working with them.ey and o check out that dossier and they had to begin looking at russian inrtstigation. ro what is the battle to come, nancy, on the redcations? asra dem and republicans some of them calling for a full release of the mueller report, if the attorney general gives a
400-page document with 200 paget redacted w does that mean for congress? >> well, i did think it was interesting that in the sene hearing, barr said that he is deferring, completel to mueller's team of investigators about what to redact and what not to redact. , have you sk overruled them? he said no. and i don't intend to overrule them. if that's thease, that will, you know, give democrats some comfort that he's no putting his thumb on the scale one way or the other. regardless, the chair of the judiciary committee in the house, gerald nadr, is really elevating this fight. his original position was look, if we get a dument and whole bunch of it is redacted, i'm going to take the subpoena and we're going to fight. and we're going to fight this tt in the courts to a hold of the full document. now he's saying if there's even one line redacted, if there are any changes whatsoever, we are this subpoena and we're going to have a fight. robert: andrea just mentioned how some democrats want to talk other issues like health care. is speaker pelosi prepared for ovairman nadler to forward
in that direction to maybe pursue a subpoena and maybe this becomes a major fig in the federal courts? >> i think this is one of those fights that they think is worth fighting. not only because, you know, they believe that this is a very important investigation. and congress has the right to look at the fruits of that investigation. but also because they're conducting their own investigations in severalho differene committees. and they need that material. they need to be able to look at the underlying material to aid in their own ongoing investigations. and that's why there's fight not just over getting the report itself but also getting the grand jury material and making sure that barr and mueller thds come up to testify once they've got that material. >> yeah. and i think you saw kind of in the -- particularly in the hearing before hou before the house on tuesday, how -- how democra were kind of starting to lay their groundwork in -- formally issuing that subpoena for that report. remember, they've already voted to authorize it.th
just haven't sent it up yet. when they questioned bill b yr and wou be willing to go to court to allow congress to see this grand jury material and he declined. he basically said well, you can go to court. i'm not so inclined to do that. i think democrats could look lld say well, you're not wig to do everything possible to accommodate us. and i think another important thing fm that hearing that we should remember, and what's causing democrats a lot of heartburn is that barr wouldn't answer if he had bried the white house after his four-page summary had been released. he had said not before but in between that time, that was t somethint he dodged on and said i said all i want to for the day. and in the second day of the testimony, senate democrats coult,'t nail him down on t either. >> and also three times was asked whether he shared the white report with the house. and refused to answer every time. robert: we don't know what's going tbe in the mueller report. everybody -- every reporter in town can't wait to get their it. on even if it has redcations to figure out what we've been reporting on these past fe years. and we're going to find out more about intelligence
activity. from 2016 about russian interference in the elections and what we're going to learn, part -- is part about what a these playe doing. and one of those players from 2016 who was in the headlines th w week wasileaks founder julian assange. he was indicted in london on ae single cha of conspiring to steal u.s. military secrets. he has not been charged in elation to wikileaks publishing stolen democratic emails from016. but he's back in the news, andrea. and what did his arrest in london realbout him and about the broader story of u.s. nd what happened in 2016? >> it doesn't reveal anything about 2016 to the frustration of a lot of people. it was bed on what chelsea manning who in the -- at the time was a private in the army. the allegation is that he conspid to get a password to get him to break up thepa word and to get documents that were from a secret govement computer. that is a very narrow single
charge. and it's deliberately so because otherwise thens ecuadond the brits would not be as willing to go along with an extradition. he couldn't have been arrested. they will not send him to the u.s. or agree to anxtradition if there is -- going to be any kind of capital sentence, ifer s any kind of espionage or higher charge. that said, what they claim in their defense is that they were doing journalively. wikileaks is doingal joum. and they still said that today. and doing an interview with an editor fromil wks. but when you look on the face of it, the mueller indictments make it very clear that organization one is wikileaks. and they say that the russian u. g.ere working hand in glove with wikileaks. with t data dumps that they handed over to wikileaks, wikileaks won't acknowledge that was their source but the russians gave the democratic hacks, the podestas, emails and all the rest and that was dumped in very strategic ways by wikileaks a times suchs right after the access hollywood. robert: not directly related to president trump but what areou
youres on the hill say when they see the headline, when they say julian assange back in the news? >> i think that there's bipartisan agreement that this is a good thing. and that you know, there are a lot of democrats and republicans who see assange as an enemy of the united states. certainly that's something that he secretary of state feels as well. and so i think that there are a lot of people that are happy that this is moving forward. robe a: we'll keepeye on it. thanks, everybody, for being here. upn next,e week extra we lklk to jake -- "washington week" extra we to jake on the wild relationship between president trump andes con watch it, starting at 8:30 p.m. eastern every friday night on our website, facook or youtube. i'm robert costa. have a great weekend. announcer: corporate funding is provided by --
>> babbel, a languagprogram that teaches real life conversations in a new language such as spanish, french, german, italian and more. babbel's 10 to 15-minute lessons are available as an app or online. morenformation on babbel.com. announcer: financial servicesym firm, d james. additional fundings provided by -- koo and patricia yuen through the yuen fouation, committed to bridging cultural differences in our communitie the corporation for public broadcasting, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning performed by the national captioninh institute, wh responsible for its caption content and accura